Quotes About Historiography
the writing of history
"A historian has many duties. Allow me to remind you of two which are important. The first is not to slander; the second is not to bore."
Any fool can make history, but it takes
a genius to write it."
"History can be well written only in a free country."
"History to be above evasion must stand on documents not on opinion."
"The historian should be fearless and
incorruptible; a man of independence, loving frankness and truth;
one who, as the poets says, calls a fig a fig and a spade a
spade. He should yield to neither hatred nor affection, not
should be unsparing and unpitying. He should be neither shy nor
deprecating, but an impartial judge, giving each side all it
deserves but no more. He should know in his writing no country
and no city; he should bow to no authority and acknowledge no
king. He should never consider what this or that man will think,
but should state the facts as they really occurred."
Lucian (A.D. 120-200)
"The older I get the more I'm
convinced that it's the purpose of politicians and journalists to say the world
is very simple, whereas it's the purpose of historians to say, 'No! It's very
The job of the historian is to help give people a sense of
existence in time, without which we are really not fully human."
"Historians have a responsibility to make some sense of the past and not just to repeat it."
Historians are not just
dispassionate chroniclers. By their selection, ordering, highlighting,
attribution and analysis of facts they fashion a particular version of the past.
And they also play a part in the disputes of the present, by legitimising or
undermining the rationales, heroes and myths which influence current debates.
Historical figures are forever being conscripted for fresh cultural
The London Times,
trust and rewriting history"
"Each age writes the history of the past with reference to the conditions uppermost in its own time."
"The writing of history reflects the interests, predilections, and even prejudices of a given generation."
John Hope Franklin
"Writing history is a perpetual exercise in judgment."
"Without the imaginative insight which goes with creative literature, history cannot be intelligibly written."
C. V. Wedgwood
"Let the science and research of the historian find the fact and let his imagination and art make
clear its significance."
"Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient
and scrupulous, into special facts. Such facts may be detailed with the most
minute exactness, and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, may be unmeaning or untrue.
The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time.
He must study events in their bearings near and remote; in the character, habits,
and manners of those who took part in them. He must himself be, as it were, a
sharer or a spectator of the action he describes."